Sunday, January 6, 2008

They Could Have Approve It

Saturday afternoon:

I went for a Citizen Think Tank session that discussed about the problem with having public assemblies. The problem right now is you need a *POLICE* permit for a gathering of more than 5 people. Even if you are to hold press conferences, *weddings*. Can you imagine how ridiculous it is to have one for weddings or if you are to perform school plays? Whoever came out with this Police Act Section 27 1967 is either a person who doesn't trust everything or has a low foresight or intelligence of the society.

It was stressed by the people there that the Section 27 of the Police Act 1967 is contradicting with Article 10 of Federal Constitution. So far a guideline to a peaceful demonstration was not outlined at all. And it is a high probability that an assembly of political nature or something that is deemed to voice their frustrations against the government will be rejected in a blink of an eye.

And that's where it contradicts with what a person is entitled to according to the primary articles of the Constitution.

The motive behind an assembly of such nature is basically as "a last resort thing" and you can sum up with the rest. The are flaws right now in having one that includes:
  • 1. Unclear definition of rallies, demo and assembly.
  • 2. What are the protocols, requirements, and handling procedures as well as assistance in handling those assemblies?
  • 3. How is law enforced on those matters? Civil way or the brutal way?
The Vigil

I was driving along Jalan Tun Perak, going for my favorite beef noodles. The road at Jalan Raja was closed off because of the vigil gathering for the Hindraf 5 ISA. There are trucks and police cars barricading the road on Merdeka Square I was following the updates on papers as to get some analysis out of it.

At 9.35 p.m. another two trucks arrived. Those FRU ones. I thought they would be facing the side of the DBKL, but instead the faced the site of Market Street or perhaps the road along the Bar Council office there. I think I came too late. Various accounts said that they dispersed at 8.35 p.m with the arrival of water trucks and tear gas. I indeed saw a FRU guy with a gas grenade strapped to his bandoleer walking along Market Street. Somehow, I think it's sensible for the police to give them 20 minutes before dispersing. But it was anti-climatic.

I thought that problem would be solved if the police simply approves it and as to help things running smoothly, they should at least send say 100 of their officers to help it out. After all, it's only at one location. And it's just only 200 people gathering for less than one hour or so. Also, they are just carrying candles, not weapons. It's just like bloggers gather out there when Nat Tan was held under the OSA. Why make the fuss out of it? When they rejected the permit, the excuses that they listed there was kind of unconvincing. The Star's report on the permit reject contrasts differently from Malaysiakini. Based on the comparison of notes, The Star intends to make people believe that GMI didn't file appeals or permit. Malaysiakini's one is different: after an appeal has been submitted, the appeal was deliberately ignored by the police.

Looking at 'Pak Zul' (Asst Comm Zulkarnain Abdul Rahman, the man responsible for the permit matter) I can sum three possibilities:

1. Either he can't think that long term and instead rejects request by request for permit.
2. He was itching for action and doing one act like sending FRUs is kind on the way for promotion or
3. He had some conscience on this matter but feared of reprimand and job if he goes against the order that is kind of incorrect from superiors above.

I remembered that Pak Zul was responsible for refusing the BERSIH permit. And there are watchdogs and observers who did warn of the government facing the possibility of high-amount lawsuits and possibly be prepared to fork out damages. And now it just started - Uthayakumar has filed a $100 million lawsuit and Musa Hassan was directly responsible for the accusation that sets off everything. Now that's something that is born out of ignorance!

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